Goa village sets example of communal harmony

As neighbouring Karnataka witnesses violence against minority Christians, a tiny village in Goa has set an example of communal harmony.

Youths belonging to Hindu and Christian communities in village Loliem came together to clean a century-old Hindu crematorium which was a picture of neglect and careless use over the years. The village is just four kilometres from the Goa-Karnataka border and 90 kms from Panaji.

“We really do not know why this (violence) is happening in Karnataka. We are a small community. We are cut off from the rest of the region because of the remoteness,” Peter Fernandes, a local youth, said.

The crematorium, which was covered by debris and shrubs, was cleaned by these youths who shot down local politicians’ advice to employ daily wage labourers to do the job. Young villagers, led by deputy sarpanch Xavier Fernandes and panch Ashutosh Bandekar, took up the task and completed it in one day.

“We wanted to do this on Gandhi Jayanti but somehow we could not…hence we did it on Sunday (October 5),” said Raju Bandekar, who took part in the exercise.

Initially the youths were not fired by the zeal to set an example of communal harmony. But a trip to the crematorium after the death of an elderly villager set them thinking.

“The other day we had come here to cremate one of our elderly villagers. We were shocked by the neglect. All of us thought why not clean it up ourselves,” Elvis Fernandes said.

A group of 25 youths, all in their mid-20s, took up the task and finished it in one day.

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